31 Days of Oscar 2019 – Day 3

While this year’s Academy Awards ceremony is officially host-less, the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon has three! Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Aurora of Once Upon A Screen, and I, here at Paula’s Cinema Club have been celebrating the Oscars themselves and TCM”s tribute to same for the past seven years!

It’s almost a wrap on the third and final day, as I continue to collect the knowledge and opinions of our astute bloggers:

First up, Amanda at Old Hollywood Films focuses on Five Times the Academy Got It Right. Her picks include one of my favorites, George Sanders’ win for All About Eve; click for the rest.

Linda at Backstory: New Looks at Classic Films examines the life and career of “strikingly successful art director” Ward Ihnen.

Pale Writer analyzes Nat King Cole’s Best Song win for “Mona Lisa.”

at Crítica Retrô reviews pre-sound films’ Oscar legacy in Golden Silence: Silent Films at the Oscars.

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood recounts Olivia de Havilland’s second Oscar win for The Heiress.

Check back throughout the day for additional 31 Days posts!

Oscar Musings

We made it. As I type this, the 91st Academy Awards ceremony is happening. The Academy has a lot of work to do before the 92nd. There are three four tasks that, if completed, would save this august organization and revive its beleaguered ceremony…all is revealed after the jump.

The Oscars have always had their controversies and backstories. Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren, Joan Crawford (accepting for Anne Bancroft), and Maximillian Schell at the 1963 ceremony, held at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
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Day Two: #31DaysOfOscar Blogathon

Day 2 of 31 Days of Oscar 2019

Once upon a screen...

I’m happy to say that we approach the halfway mark of this year’s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon without incident or controversy. As is the case with my co-hosts, I will not be hosting any posts during commercials today, my day to host this year’s event. To put you at ease here is a 1957 Oldsmobile commercial, which aired during the Academy Awards ceremony that year. I will watch it with you thereby pausing my hosting duties.

Welcome back. Before we get to today’s list of entries, you might want to visit the Announcement post, which includes the entire participant roster. Also, be sure to visit Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled and the Day One submissions. Terrific stuff there. Otherwise, I’m getting to the main course of this entry, the tributes to the movies and the people who have had relationships with Oscar…or should have had. Enjoy!

  • We begin…

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Day One: The #31DaysOfOscar Blogathon!

Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled presents Day 1 of 31 Days of Oscar

Outspoken and Freckled

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We have finally arrived to our exciting annual event, The 31 DAYS OF OSCAR BLOGATHON. In tribute and in namesake of the Turner Classic Movies network month-long programming, we honor all things Oscar related by inviting bloggers to contribute. Today, for the first day in our 3-day event, I will be your host and here are your entries… Enjoy!

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1) Our own co-host Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon A Screen interviews Kimberly Truhler (@GlamAmor) of GlamAmor.com. Fashion and Film historian Kimberly was recently featured in the CNN docu-series American Styleand discussed “FASHION HISTORY, HOLLYWOOD, and the OSCARS” with Aurora…

Interview: Kimberly Truhler on Fashion History, Hollywood, and the Oscars

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2) Paddy (@CaftanWoman) of Caftan Woman presents her entry with the extremely talented and highly influential man of Hollywood, “IRVING BERLIN at the OSCARS.” 

https://www.caftanwoman.com/2019/02/31-days-of-oscar-blogathon-irving.html

3) Sharleen of Clara’s Closet offers up her thoughts on…

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Announcing the 31 Days of Oscar 2019 Blogathon!

Update

Day 1 posts are here.

From the time Douglas Fairbanks, then President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, hosted the first Awards dinner party for about 250 people on May 16, 1929, to this year’s host-free Oscars ceremony ninety years later, this iconic celebration honoring Hollywood’s finest continues to be just as spectacular and as riddled with both excellence and contentions as the films and filmmakers they honor.

February 23rd, 1939. Serial Oscar winner Bette Davis holding her Oscar for Jezebel as she talks to the film’s director, William Wyler. 11th Academy Awards, Los Angeles.
(Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

If you take a look back at the many Oscar moments in these past 90 years of Oscars ceremonies, you’ll find numerous surprises, disappointments and controversies, which continue to spark debate to this day. That’s where we come in. For the seventh consecutive year, I am once again joining forces with Aurora of Once Upon A Screen aka @CitizenScreen and Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled aka @IrishJayhawk66 to bring you the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. We hope you’ll consider joining us to make this the best and brightest Oscar blogging event yet.

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“Behind a Mask” with Louisa May Alcott

As you may be aware, Greta Gerwig is filming her adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 masterwork Little Women. This version is set to star Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, James Norton, Florence Pugh, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep, and is slated for a Christmas 2019 release.

In the last couple of years alone, there’s already been a TV miniseries and a feature film, and in my opinion, it will be difficult to improve on (the best) Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 version.

No matter… Little Women is a perennial springboard for many imaginations.

Gerwig has been involved with this production for two years or more, having been consulted to rewrite a draft just as she was finishing up her own script for Lady Bird, and the producer of the ’94 installment, Robin Swicord, is convinced she can innovate. Word is, Gerwig’s take will concentrate on the March sisters’ adult lives — not so much as girls, more as young women. So possibly less Concord with Marmee, and more Europe with Aunt March for Amy and New York City for Jo, say. (No word on whether she’ll be able to make Amy any less of a selfish, vain brat.)

Perhaps if this version does well, Gerwig or someone else will be interested in other Alcott works…such as a fascinating short story called “Behind a Mask.” I first became aware of Alcott’s short fiction while watching a PBS documentary on her and her family. Turns out, her life was no picnic. Much like the March girls, the Alcotts were broke a lot of the time (both families had four daughters, and a lot of Little Women seems to have been autobiographical). Her father was a Transcendentalist like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and although he wrote and spoke about that ideology all over the U.S., in addition to establishing an experimental school, he failed to consistently support the family. So what’s a nice girl from a good family supposed to do for money in mid-19th century New England? While still a teenager, Alcott worked at a variety of jobs: teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and, most often, writer. And the most lucrative writing was pulp fiction, or what was in the 1860s referred to by Alcott herself and others as “blood and thunder tales.”

Under the name A.M. Barnard, she wrote stories with somewhat opposite themes as Little Women. Gold-digging, revenge, adultery, murder, stealing, deception, betrayal, blackmail…you name it, A.M. put it in a story. This is stuff that would have given Professor Bhaer an attack of the vapors. Much like Jane Austen and the “horrid novels” she loved 70 years before, Alcott had a taste for less rarefied stories — and was able to make it pay. In 1862, she wrote in her journal, “Rewrote the last story, and sent it to L., who wants more than I can send him.” “Behind a Mask” is among the most interesting of this melodramatic oeuvre.

The story takes place in contemporary England and concerns a penniless governess who arrives at a great house and ingratiates herself with its inmates, the wealthy Coventry family, except for the oldest son and his cousin, who don’t trust her from the beginning. Only they can sense — spoiler alert: rightly so — that the demure young woman is nothing like what she seems.

When alone, Miss Muir’s conduct was decidedly peculiar. Her first act was to clench her hands and mutter between her teeth, with passionate force, “I’ll not fail again if there is power in a woman’s wit and will!” She stood a moment motionless, with an expression of almost fierce disdain on her face, then shook her clenched hand as if menacing some unseen enemy….Kneeling before the one small trunk, which held her worldly possessions, she opened it, drew out a flask, and mixed a glass of some ardent cordial, which she seemed to enjoy extremely as she sat on the carpet, musing, while her quick eyes examined every corner of the room….Still sitting on the floor she unbound and removed the long abundant braids from her head, wiped the pink from her face, took out several pearly teeth, and slipping off her dress appeared herself indeed, a haggard, worn, and moody woman of thirty at least. (11)

Soon enough, this unassuming yet devious personage puts the household in chaos, and brother is pitted against brother:

He looked at her with a despairing glance and stretched his hand toward her beseechingly. She seemed to figure a blow, for suddenly she clung to Gerald with a faint cry. The act, the look of fear, the protecting gesture Coventry involuntarily made, were too much for Edward, already excited by conflicting passions. In a paroxysm of blind wrath he caught up a large pruning knife left there by the gardener, and would have dealt his brother a fatal blow had he not warded it off with his arm. (34-35)

I’m not going to say much more about the story, other than it’s short enough to be effectively adapted as a feature film and twisty enough to keep people guessing until the last scene. It ought to be helmed by a woman, in any case, someone who can portray the 19th-century social/class differences without bogging the story down, as they are integral to the world Alcott writes about. Perhaps Gerwig, Sofia Coppola, or Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice) would take it on.

Quotations from Behind A Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Edited and with an introduction by Madeleine Stern. Harper Collins Perennial, 2004.

Little Women (1994) stills from Movie-Screencaps.com

Lionel Atwill’s Double Life

Lionel Atwill, a fixture of action and horror films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, is a familiar face whose background was unknown to me, so I figured he’d be great to write about for the 7th Annual What A Character! Blogathon. To be honest, there’s a lot more story here than I expected.

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Day 3 of the 2018 What A Character! Blogathon

‘Tis the season to recognize the names below the title, as our yearly recognition of those supporting players whose faces you know (but names you might not) concludes today.

Check out Day 1 by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Day 2 at Aurora‘s blog Once Upon a Screen. All the nitty-gritty blogathon details are in the Announcement post. Thanks to my partners in cinematic tribute for making this such a fun project and to Turner Classic Movies for the blogathon title and inspiration. And now on with the show…

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Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018

9th August 1933: Jean Harlow (1911 - 1937) is Hollywood sex goddess Lola Burns and Frank Morgan (1890 - 1949) is her father, Pop Burns, in 'Bombshell', (aka 'Blonde Bombshell') directed by Victor Fleming. Mary Forbes (1883 - 1974) plays Mrs Middleton.
Frank Morgan and June Brewster are just two of the superb character actors in BOMBSHELL (1933). Image via Doctor Macro

When you re-watch your favorite films, what keeps you coming back for more? A great story with sharp writing? No doubt. Beautiful costumes, swanky set designs, and stunning cinematography? Most assuredly. But the performances are key to any movie. While we all look forward to the popular leading actors, it is the stand-out, scene-stealing supporting actors that feel like “home.”

Wise-cracking Eve Arden, nurturing Louise Beavers, sassy Thelma Ritter, double-take pro Edward Everett Horton, tart-tongued Edna May Oliver, gravelly-voiced Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, fatherly Charles Coburn, frazzled Franklin Pangborn, bullfrog-voiced, barrel-chested Eugene Pallette, cigar-chomping Ned Sparks… these and so many more lovable character actors are who we look forward to seeing as our dearest old chums. We all could use a trusted sidekick.

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John Ford’s STAGECOACH (1939) was rife with talented characters.

For the 7th consecutive year, we as the blogathon hosting trio of Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and @CitizenScreen, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @IrishJayhawk66, and myself, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and @Paula_Guthat invite you to join us for the WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON 2018, December 14, 15, 16, as we pay tribute to the brilliance of the supporting players.

Continue reading “Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018”